After piloting a similar project in three other provinces, international students in post-secondary institutions across Alberta will soon be able to work off campus.
"We're close to having the deal finalized," said Advanced Education spokesperson Cam Traynor. "We are in the last stages of negotiating with the federal government and then the deal will move forward. No funding is changing hands, but because the matter crosses federal and provincial jurisdictions, some details still need to be settled."
Currently, international students are not allowed to work off-campus and their employment is limited to where they are enrolled. They may work part-time during the school year or full-time during the summer months.
International Student Centre director Glynn Hunter explained some of the benefits of the new deal for international students.
"The object is to allow international students some pocket or spending money while they are abroad," he said. "Also, it allows them to integrate into the community. One reason the government looks at this as being attractive is in the case of potential immigrants. If they see what life is like here in Alberta, they might want to stay after they complete their studies."
Traynor agreed on the importance of attracting new individuals to the province.
"Here in Alberta, this program certainly makes sense," he said. "In other provinces where the job market is not the same, there may be more reluctance to put a program like this in place."
"There's no shortage of jobs in Alberta and once the deal is put in place, it will be a way for international students to come here, contribute to Alberta's economy, and gain some work experience in the province as well."
Hunter emphasized that after the program is put in place, the ISC will be monitoring it closely.
"Students must be enrolled for at least two semesters before they are allowed to take part," he said. "The students will be under review every semester. This shows that serious students who are committed to their schoolwork are applying."